Friday, June 05, 2009

Who Are You Going To Believe: Obama...Or Maimonides? (Updates)

Hot Air has an ongoing feature called Obamateurism of the Day. Today's edition notes:
Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo yesterday, whatever else one thinks of it, did produce something in abundance: Obamateurisms. We’ll start with one noticed by Barcepundit, and fittingly so, because it relates to Spain, Barcepundit’s country. In praising the history of Islamic tolerance, Obama told his audience that Islam even showed its tolerance … during the Inquisition?
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.
Barcepundit couldn’t believe his ears:
[B]y the time the Spanish Inquisition was created in 1478, Cordoba has been reconquered from Islamic hands almost 150 years earlier, in 1236.
Read the whole thing.

But I am not as interested in the anachronism as I am in the way Obama--again--gives Islam a free pass.

So Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance in the history of Cordoba?

In Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, Ibn Warraq quotes Fouad Ajami in the foreword:
Maimonides [(1135-1204), Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher], born in 1135, did not flee "Europe" for the "Arab world": He fled his native Córdoba in Spain, which was then in the grip of religious-political terror, choking under the yoke of a Berber Muslim dynasty, the Almohads, that was to snuff out all that remained of the culture of conviviencia and made the life of Spain's Jews (and of the free spirits among its Muslims) utter hell. Maimonides and his family fled the fire of the Muslim city-states in the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco and then to Jerusalem. There was darkness and terror in Morocco as well, and Jerusalem was equally inhospitable in the time of the Crusader Kingdom. Deliverance came only in Cairo -- the exception, not the rule, its social peace maintained by the enlightened Saladin.
Ibn Warraq then goes on to quote what Maimonides himself wrote about the Muslim rule under which he lived:
Maimonides's The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen was written in about 1172 in reply to inquiries by Jacob ben Netan'el al-Fayyūmi, the then head of the Jewish community in Yemen. The Jews of Yemen were passing through a crisis, as they were being forced to convert to Islam, a campaign launched in about 1165 by 'Abd-al-Nabī ibn Mahdi. Maimonides provided them with guidance and with what encouragement he could. The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen gives a clear view of what Maimonides thought of Muhammad the Prophet, “the Madman” as he calls him, and of Islam generally. This is what Maimonides wrote:
You write that the rebel leader in Yemen decreed compulsory apostasy for the Jews by forcing the Jewish inhabitants of all the places he had subdued to desert the Jewish religion just as the Berbers had compelled them to do in Maghreb [i.e.Islamic West]. Verily, this news has broken our backs and has astounded and dumbfounded the whole of our community. And rightly so. For these are evil tidings, "and whosoever heareth of them, both his ears tingle (I Samuel 3:11)." Indeed our hearts are weakened, our minds are confused, and the powers of the body wasted because of the dire misfortunes which brought religious persecutions upon us from the two ends of the world, the East and the West, "so that the enemies were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side." (Joshua 8:22).
Maimonides points out that persistent persecutions of the Jews by the Muslims amounts to forced conversion:
…the continuous persecutions will cause many to drift away from our faith, to have misgivings, or to go astray, because they witnessed our feebleness, and noted the triumph of our adversaries and their dominion over us...
...During the last fifteen years, certain Western scholars have tried to argue that, first, Islamic antisemitism, that is hatred of Jews, is only a recent phenomenon learnt from the Nazis during and after the 1940s, and, second, that Jews lived safely under Muslim rule for centuries, especially during the Golden Age of Muslim Spain. Both assertions are unsupported by the evidence. Islam, that is, the Islam of the texts, as found in the Koran, and Hadith (the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his Companions) and in the Sira (the biography of Muhammad, which obviously overlaps with the Hadith), and Islam, that is the Islam developed or elaborated from those texts early on by the Koranic commentators and jurisconsults, and then set in stone more than a millennium ago, and even Islam, in the sense of Islamic Civilization, that is, what Muslims actually did historically, have all been deeply antisemitic. That is, all have been anti-Infidel so that Christians too are regarded with disdain and contempt and hatred, but the Jews have been served, or been seen to have merited, a special animus. 
This history of Muslim persecutions goes hand in hand with the history of Al-Azhar University the 1,000 year old Muslim university which to this day preaches racism and hatred of Jews.

It's bad enough that Islamists today try to--successfully--whitewash history.
Now Obama is helping them.

UPDATE: According to the New York Post, Obama
even went so far as to tell the audience that he considers "it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."
Well, that explains it.

UPDATE II: Michael Ledeen writes:
On the other hand, there were so many errors of history that I was left wondering if there is anyone in the White House that checks facts. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.” But the Muslims had been driven out of Spain by the time of the Inquisition. The Inquisition was Catholic, after all. What was he thinking? And even if he was thinking about an earlier epoch, the so-called Golden Age, “tolerance” is hardly the right word. Yes, non-Muslims were permitted to live, provided that they submitted to Muslim rule and paid their rulers. Yes, Jews were better off in Muslim lands than in Christian areas during the Middle Ages. But “toleration” it wasn’t. One of my best professors used to argue that the word, in its contemporary sense, only began to make sense in the seventeenth century.

He credited Muslims for inventions of others, from the magnetic compass to algebra to pens, arches, and even to printing. It’s as if there were no ancient Chinese inventions, and the Romans had to await the Prophet before they could build the Pantheon. And someone really should tell him that printing came from the Orient, was rejected in Muslim domains, and then developed in Europe. It was introduced into the Middle East in the 15th century by Jews, who were not permitted to publish in Arabic. So the first printing press in the region was brought by Jews who then published in Hebrew.
Good thing that Obama didn't mention that Jews also built the pyramids.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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